Gerald Veasley’s Electric Mingus Project
Charles Mingus. Even in his passing, this legendary bassist and composer has inspired more controversy than perhaps any other in jazz. While his contemporaries pursued increasing refinement and complexity in their music, Mingus ran against the grain, reveling in the raw emotion found in jazz’s “simple” ancestors, the blues and gospel. These styles have been called the victory of the subjective over the objective. In other words, how the music makes people feel is far more important than the degree of technical correctness in the musicians’ playing. Mingus’s defiant adherence to this ideal is ever present in his compositions and has made him a fascination to the generations of jazz musicians that followed.
One such musician is renowned Philadelphia bassist Gerald Veasley. A formidable player and composer himself, Veasley leads the five piece Electric Mingus Project. The group’s self-titled debut album revisits ten Mingus compositions using modern electronic instruments. When asked to explain the goals of what initially appears to be a tribute project, the former bassist for Grover Washington Jr. and Joe Zawinul responds surprisingly. “A recording should reflect not just how you play, but also how you are as a person. We want this record to be a snapshot of these five musicians and who they are.”
By rejecting the idea of a tribute album in this way, the Electric Mingus Project pays the ultimate tribute to the late composer. As Mingus turned back to the blues, Veasley turns back to Mingus for the same purpose: to find a vehicle for true, unabashed personal expression. So though Mingus wrote the music on this album, the feeling, power, and irrepressible soul that bursts from every track belongs to no one but the musicians of the Electric Mingus Project. Charles Mingus wouldn’t want it any other way.